Underground Zero


Underground Zero Review

A number of indie filmmakers "Respond to 9/11" in Underground Zero, a somewhat interesting yet largely predictable examination of patriotism, race, and both pro-war and anti-war sentiment in the wake of September 11. And of course, there are plenty of total non-sequiturs to divert the film into no man's land.

The thirteen short films compiled here range from one to ten minutes in length, and the quality is completely scattershot.

The worst of the bunch is "China Diary (911)," in which Eva Ilona Brzeski talks about her trip to China, apropos of nothing except that 9/11 happened while she was overseas. It's really just a chance to show off some vacation footage and talk about her marginally sane family. It is deathly uninspiring.

Some, like "Prayer," are simply collections of stock footage from old movies (you're invited to make the connection to terrorism on your own). "Scene from an endless war" is the worst, with MSNBC promos running back to back, grating in the extreme and saying nothing. Some have voice-overs, some don't. None of them are interesting at all.

And also passed off as a short film is the requisite series of static photos of those killed on 9/11 ("Untitled"), used to wrap up the movie. It's a little tacky but not unexpected.

There are some bright spots, however. The highlights: "Brief Encounter with Tibetan Monks," wherein the supposedly wisest men in the world are coy in their inability to explain what's going on in the world. It's funny to see that these oh-so-sage guys are just as clueless as everyone else in reality. Also, the first short is great: "The End of Summer," with a young girl expressing her candid and encensored thoughts on the event while shots of her peaceful suburb play over them.

The highlight is Caveh Zahedi's film (who co-produced the picture, as well), "The World is a Classroom," which begins as a documentary about a film class beginning on 9/4, shot by Zahedi as the teacher, but a week into it, the terror strikes occur, and the class takes on a whole new dimension as one of the students becomes belligerent and refuses to participate. It's a microcosm of war, showing how it can be fought on even the smallest of battlefields.

Underground Zero

Facts and Figures

Run time: 76 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th March 2002


Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jay Rosenblatt, , Frazer Bradshaw, Robert Edwards, Eva Ilona Brzeski, , , Paul Harrill, Norman Cowie, David Driver, Laura Plotkin, Valerie Soe, John Haptas, Kristine Samuelson,

Producer: Jay Rosenblatt,

Also starring: